David and Claudia Chittenden “Aim High” with KQEDDavid and Claudia Chittenden “Aim High” with KQED

In the Fall of 2013, the Gift Planning department sat down with David and Claudia Chittenden, long-time supporters and devoted listeners of KQED, to learn more about their charitable activities and their motivations for giving. The Chittendens' Producer's Circle and Legacy gifts have long supported KQED programming, and help keep it available to millions of Bay Area residents, now and into the future. We hope you enjoy the conversation.

When did KQED become important to you? How has KQED impacted you?

David: It started in 1968 when the original Newsroom was covering a newspaper strike. KQED took the time to educate the public on unfolding events. And it goes back further to my school days at Cranbrook outside of Detroit, Michigan, where the motto is, "Aim High." That standard of excellence in one's work and utilizing one's mind has stayed with me to this day. And I've found those qualities in KQED. You provide a great service to public education. We think the public is better informed about every aspect of our political, social and economic life because of KQED, and its news coverage is a strong example of that. The reporting goes deeper than a 30-second news flash — we hear in-depth discussions on important issues and we can count on learning about both sides of a given story.

Claudia: KQED has made a big impact on the quality of information we receive. It's top notch. I also appreciate the global perspective many of the programs give. I've been exposed to places I've never been, and I have some insight into cultures I've never experienced.

What are some of your favorite programs or services?

David: Except at dinnertime or during travels abroad, we always have KQED Radio on for news and current events. And now we can take it with us everywhere on our smartphones. KQED is a tremendous force in unbiased and thoughtful educational programming. On television, we've been enjoying Foyle's War, "Downton Abbey" and other Masterpiece programs, and Last Tango in Halifax.

Would you share with us your approach to philanthropy?

David: We decided a long time ago that we would support institutions that help educate the public, especially youth. We have been very fortunate, thanks to our careers, and we want to invest in organizations we believe in. At a more fundamental level, we came into this world with nothing and we'll leave the same way—you cannot take it with you.

Claudia: There is much power in being generous. Some years ago, David said, "What should we do to give back to our community?" I said we needed to share — share our good fortune. When I was young, I remember my mother hosting exchange student programs. She was generous with her nurturing, hospitality and care — she gave of herself and those exchange students still contact her today, some 50 years later.

What other organizations do you support?

Claudia: We've supported David's medical school and the Student Conservation Association. We also give to Playworks, a non-profit for kids, and other social and educational programs.

What inspired your support of KQED?

David: Starting in 1974, maybe earlier, we made small donations over the years to KQED. And as we grew older, we set up charitable gift annuities to benefit us during our lives, and at the same time benefit KQED. Since we don't need the annuity income now, we also chose a revocable gift assignment that allows our life income payments from the charitable gift annuity to automatically fund our annual support to KQED.

Claudia: Another thing we like about KQED is that you all give back. At KQED events, it's really been fun for us to meet the people whose voices we hear on the radio and the faces we see on public television. The staff makes us feel that what we've done is valued. On a larger scale, we see how KQED builds community and continues the legacy of creating programs that educate and that provide insight and awareness of local and world affairs. We feel secure in knowing that KQED will continue educating and improving our community far into the future. That's very exciting.